Georgia Voluntary Payment Doctrine

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Georgia Voluntary Payment Doctrine
The Georgia Voluntary Payment Doctrine is a policy that has been used in Georgia law since the 19th Century. It has been exercised so long that this policy has codified a statute. Because it dates back two centuries when business deals were completed on one’s word, face-to-face and with a hand shake, it causes one to question if it has outdated itself and should still be used to decide court cases in today’s business world. According to Dan Kolber of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “the statute says when money is paid "through ignorance of the law" and there is no fraud or mistake of facts, then the payment is deemed voluntary and cannot be recovered. Filing a protest at the time of payment does not change this rule.” This law has been the deciding factor in many cases which some say have resulted in outrageous outcomes. In order for the Voluntary Payment Doctrine to be enforced there are three conditions that must be met. The first is that the payment is made through ignorance of the law or where all material facts are known. The person asking for reimbursement must prove that the payment was not made voluntarily because not all material facts were known at the time the payment was made. No one is excused from a law just because he is unaware that it exists. Secondly, the person to whom this payment is made must not have collected it fraudulently. And, lastly the payment must not have been made under duress, such as to release a person from detention or to prevent the immediate seizure of property. The person cannot be forced or coerced to make the payment. (AGG Authority on Real Estate, Winter, 2006) This statute has returned favorable outcomes for many. One particular Georgia case is that of an insurance company who lost its bid to recover overpayments made to medical providers. Mr. Seaton D. Purdom who was involved in the lawsuit supports it with this doctrine. He feels “It promotes commercial stability. It...
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